Several years ago, I met two girls online who decided to form an online community centered around the making of care packages. They set up a message board so that we could all talk online, but the real heart of this club was that we all kept in touch through the postal system too. New members were welcomed with a care package put together by someone else in the group, and old members would surprise each other with packages from time to time as well. It’s an amazing feeling to receive a package unexpectedly, and it’s even better getting to know people both online and off by exchanging mail on a regular basis.
Few things are as exciting as receiving unexpected personal mail. Email is a great way to stay in touch, but because it can be thrown together and sent off so quickly, it tends to be less significant. A letter in the mail shows that someone spent both time and the cost of postage just to say hello to you. A care package is like a letter times 50—not only did that person take the time to write you a letter, they managed to fill up a whole box with things to make you smile.
Sending a care package doesn’t have to be expensive, and you don’t have to know someone well to send them a package. It’s a great way to open lines of communication with someone you don’t know well, and it’s also a great way to cheer up someone who’s been having a rough time.
Making a care package is also a great way to show love and kindness to someone by helping make his or her day a little brighter. It may seem like a small gesture that involves very little effort, but sending off a care package can be a far bigger illustration of kindness than many, many phone calls or online chats.
For those of you who are new to the art of care packages, I’ve assembled a list of tips.
[CHOOSE A RECIPIENT]
Suggestions: old friends, siblings, someone you don’t know very well but would like to, someone you know could use some cheering up. It’s impossible to feel completely miserable when you just received a big box in the mail. If you’re stumped, just flip through your address book and see what names jump out at you.
DON’T TELL THEM]
Do not tell the recipient. If you must contact them to obtain an address, do not explain why. Make it sound like you’re just sending an ordinary old letter. The element of surprise greatly enhances the care package experience.
Start looking for care package items in your room. You probably have plenty of bizarre knick-knacks, funny old books, magazines to cut up, etc. right there for your use, free of charge. Make a collage out of magazines and pictures. Write a letter. If you have local friends who know the recipient, make them write letters too.
[TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE DOLLAR STORE]
Visit your neighborhood dollar store. Pay special attention to the toy aisle and the candy section, but do not ignore any part of the store. You never know what treasures you will find in the dollar store. Don’t be afraid to send silly, useless things. Just focus on making your recipient smile.
Assemble all the items you have collected and see what kind of packaging you will need. You can get priority mail boxes for free from the post office, if you are willing to pay priority mail rates to ship the box. You can get padded envelopes at most drug stores and general stores, or you can just recycle a box that has been laying around your house.
After you address it, feel free to draw on the box, put stickers on it or write silly slogans on the side.
Take the box to the post office, mail it and wait for an excited response from the recipient.
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